Hello Blogophiles. I forgot to tell you about my walk through the mall at Saskatoon and how I nearly joined the Canadian Forces. I was looking for a Tim’s, as usual. I know you’re probably sick of me crapping on about Tim but I’ll only be copping him for a short time. So I’m trawling the Food Court in this place when a voice comes over the loudspeaker, “Attention attention, this is a call to arms. Attention attention, this is a call to arms”. Wow, I thought, some excitement! What’s going on? Are we at war or something? Has someone attacked us??
Don’t laugh, but I was seriously thinking those things.
Then the bloke repeated his message, and I immediately realised I’m still not that great with the Canadian accent. What he actually said was, “Attention attention, this is a false alarm”. Oh dear, did I feel like a dork. Lucky no-one could read my mind eh. It’s a good thing he repeated the message, or they would have had 50 year old me snatching a bazooka and heading off to the firing range.
Anyway, lots has happened since I left Saskatoon…well, not LOTS, but a few different experiences anyway. The remainder of Saskatchewan was prairies, very flat and windy. I wanted to reach Manitoba to get the bike’s 20,000 km service done, and also to check out Lake Winnipeg, the sixth largest lake in North America. That day I rode for what seemed like forever, but was about 560 kms.
Crossing the border into Manitoba was like entering another country: the prairies ended abruptly and rolling hills appeared, along with trees / lovely wind breaks. Many years ago, the Important People must have decided that the flat bit could be Saskatchewan, and the hilly bit could be Manitoba. As is my custom, the first stop after crossing the border was the Visitor Information Centre for some maps and info on campgrounds and other accommodation. Just prior to reaching this place, however, I passed these extremely Fit People:
I think they may have been from Germany, judging by their language. I have passed lots of similar Fit People on my travels through North America, some even on the Dalton Highway to the Arctic Ocean! I found it hard enough to get there by motorbike; can’t imagine what it would be like on a pushie.
To greet me, and other visitors to Manitoba, was this bloke:
Didn’t see any other bulls that looked quite like him…
It was a ferociously windy day. Fortunately, being a westerly, the wind was behind me for much of the day, apart from sections of the road which went north/south for a time. The flags show how strong the wind was:
Country towns in Saskatchewan and Manitoba are similar in many ways to Aussie country towns. A typical stop saw me at a gas station in the middle of the day. It was always hot, and very quiet apart from the odd car passing by. Inside, Janis wailed about Bobby McGee, a local slowly and methodically scratched her lottery tickets, and the attendant valiantly fought an increasingly futile battle with boredom. Fair dinkum, had it not been for the accents I could have sworn I was in Aussieland!
I enjoyed the ride across the prairies. Love those wide open spaces.
Anyway, that day, whichever one it was, I ended up in a lovely town called Minnedosa. It’s here:
Minnedosa was reached by travelling downhill through a windy road into a valley at the bottom. It is a beautiful little spot and I enjoyed my short stay there. I was staying right near a river with a nice view of some trees (as much as I like the wide open land, oh how I had missed seeing trees!) Went for a walk around the town and got a few piccies.
There was this train in the park:
There was also a war memorial, commemorating Canadians from the area who died in World War I.
The two sides in the below photo commemorate locals who lost their lives at Passchendaele and Vimy Ridge. In 1917 the village of Passchendaele, in Belgium, was in German hands; the Aussies, Kiwis, Pommies, and just about everyone else had tried, without success, to take the village from the Germans. So the Pommy general (Haig I think) sent the Canadians in, and they took the village, albeit with the loss of almost 16,000 troops.
The Battle of Vimy Ridge is more well-known. Vimy Ridge was an important tactical spot for the German Army. The Pommies and French had tried to take the ridge earlier in the war. They sent in the Canadians, who took the ridge and ousted the Germans in under a week. There is a lot more to Vimy Ridge but I don’t know the story; I think it is kind of like Canada’s version of Gallipoli.
The next day I got to Winnipeg. It’s quite a big city, but one thing I have to say about Winnipeg, it’s easy to find your way around. The place is well set out, and had heaps of signs, so I didn’t get lost at any point. I was there for one reason, to get the bike’s 20,000 km service done. Wildwood Motorsports in Winnipeg were excellent. They initially said I could bring the bike in next week, but when I told them I was travelling they said to bring it in the next day. So I found a motel just up the road. It was cheap to start with, but after they’d added Goods/Services Tax, HST (affectionately referred to as “Horse Shit Tax”), and some other tax, it wasn’t really cheap at all. But I needed to get the bike done, so had to cop it.
The motel was dirty, but it was a bed and a roof and a shower, and that’s all I needed. Well, okay, it was very dirty. Whilst looking for a power outlet behind the bedside table I found several inches of dust and someone’s discarded lolly wrapper. The shower recess was mouldy. The bedspread smelt…different. All these things I can cop no dramas, and although they’re not pleasant, sometimes you just have to take the good with the bad. I had dinner then watched the soccer between Germany and Spain. I was rooting for Spain because I reckoned they were the underdogs. They won the game 1-nil. I thought it was the final, but it was only the semi. Slept quite well, considering.
Next morning I’m busily packing up the bike. This procedure is not the performance it used to be; I have it down to a fine art now and can load everything efficiently in a short space of time. I wanted to be down at the bike shop when they opened, so I could get this thing done then get on the road. So the bike’s parked outside the room, and I’m in and out packing, tying down the load, obviously quite busy. I’m approached by a couple of guests. Both had numerous and diverse forms of hardware hanging off their ears, noses, and general facial regions (and who knows where else…). They wanted to know if I would be interested in a threesome.
I was speechless at first, although several responses ran through my head. Imagine it eh? There you are at 8 o’clock in the morning, minding your business and getting ready for the day and trying to remember all the things you have to do. You’re bailed up by a couple of people in their early twenties, with whom you obviously have nothing in common, and asked a question like that! The very thought turned my stomach, but I’m a visitor in this country, so I declined politely.
I can laugh about it now. The conversations I’ve had with most Canadians in this country have been about the bike, travelling around, recommended places to see, and so on. Never had a conversation with any of them about threesomes, or even twosomes. Wow. Guess it takes all types to make up our wonderfully diverse world eh?
Manitoba itself is beautiful, like the rest of Canada. I am sure there are nice parts of Winnipeg too, but during my whirlwind visit to the place I saw none of them. Winnipeg is kind of a sad city. There is a high crime rate; I was reading in the local newspaper that Winnipeg’s crime rate is the highest in Canada.
I wanted to see a bit more of Manitoba before I went any further, so headed north to Lake Winnipeg. This lake is the sixth largest in North America. I was looking at it on the map, absolutely massive! The lake is so large it has beaches, sandy beaches, which even have waves. Decided to camp at a place called Grand Beach, right on the lake. What a beautiful spot it was too. Stayed at a very efficiently run government campground which was clean, well looked after, and had all the facilities. My campsite was probably the nicest I’ve come across in Canada. The park rangers were friendly and knowledgable. I had a great time there.
The park rangers warned me that there were a couple of bears in the area and that I would have to store my food away from my campsite. Because I don’t have a car for that purpose, they recommended I put my food up a tree. So I did, and found the Yellow Thing useful for something other than carrying junk and serving as a wind break. Here’s a piccie:
I’d arrived at the campground around the middle of the day, so decided to grab the camera and go for a nice long hike. The beach was close by, so that was first. These beaches have beautiful white sand and are understandably very popular.
Came across a watersport that looks like lots of fun. Just after those photos were taken one of those wind things (they’re quite big) came crashing down, landing inches away from some sunbathers who had, until that point, been happily dozing the day away. Didn’t they jump! I would have too.
After the beach it was time for a comfort stop. I’ve never seen toilets designed quite like this:
Not sure what the circular arrangement of stools in the middle is all about. It would be a good meeting place, I guess.
I went inland on some roads. Walking near a creek I saw what at first appeared to be a rock, but then the rock moved! I think they’re beavers. I was so excited, couldn’t stop clicking. Here they are:
What a treat! Never seen a beaver before (if that’s what they were, maybe the Canadians reading this can tell me). Anyway, left the road after that for one of the trails. These trails are a lovely walk, lined with dense forest and tall trees:
I was conscious of bears, and all the advisories tell you to make a noise when hiking, because bears do not like to be surprised. It is recommended you take bells with you. I didn’t have a bell, so singing would have to do (except for when other people approached, of course). This was a very long trail and I sang pretty much continually. No bears appeared, strangely enough. On reflection, I reckoned it was a good thing a bear didn’t fly out of the woods and clock me one on the head, just to get me to shut the heck up for two seconds. If there were any around though, they probably scarpered at the first sound of my melodious tones…
Towards the end of the hike, and back on a road, I saw this little fellow. Don’t know if it was a male or female. He/she was wary, but didn’t run, just walked across the road whilst keeping a good eye on me:
It had been a great day for seeing wildlife. Really enjoyed my stay at Grand Beach. Yesterday I hit the road and made it to Ontario. My destination is more of the great lakes, so I’ll tell you all about them soon. Thanks for reading and ‘bye for now.